Climate change overview

What is happening?

Earth is changing because of global warming, which is a global average temperature increase over preindustrial times (1850–1900). As of 2020, the increase is around 1.3°C.

Source: http://berkeleyearth.org/global-temperature-report-for-2020/
Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temperature_record_of_the_last_2,000_years#/media/File:2000+_year_global_temperature_including_Medieval_Warm_Period_and_Little_Ice_Age_-_Ed_Hawkins.svg

How significant is a 1.3°C increase?

As a perspective, during the peak of the most recent Ice Age the planet was only about 5°C colder than today. [1] So each degree matters.

Source: http://berkeleyearth.org/global-temperature-report-for-2020/
Source: http://berkeleyearth.org/global-temperature-report-for-2020/

What are the current consequences?

As the temperature increases, the ice caps are melting and the sea level rises.

Source: https://www.amap.no/documents/download/6759/inline
Source: https://www.climate.gov/news-features/understanding-climate/climate-change-global-sea-level

Why is it happening?

While there are several different factors responsible for earth heating up before — orbit change and axis position, neither of these factors seem to play a role today [4].

Source: https://www.climate.gov/news-features/understanding-climate/climate-change-incoming-sunlight
Source: https://gml.noaa.gov/aggi/aggi.html
Source: https://www.climate.gov/news-features/understanding-climate/climate-change-atmospheric-carbon-dioxide
https://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peasant#/media/File:1794_Morgenstern_Bauernhof_anagoria.JPG https://miningglobal.com/digital-mining/photos-10-minerals-make-modern-life-work
https://ourworldindata.org/energy-production-consumption; https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/world-gdp-over-the-last-two-millennia?time=1820..2015
Source: https://www.climate.gov/news-features/understanding-climate/climate-change-atmospheric-carbon-dioxide

Mitigators

The situation today would have been much worse, if not for two counterbalancing factors: carbon sinks and aerosol masking.

Source: https://www.globalcarbonproject.org/carbonbudget/21/files/GCP_CarbonBudget_2021.pdf

Where is it all headed?

Based on several scenarios, depending on how much GHG we emit from now on the estimates give temperature increase from 1.5°C to 4.3°C.

Source: https://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar6/wg1/#SPM
Source: https://www.climate.gov/news-features/understanding-climate/climate-change-global-sea-level

How to counter climate change?

To summarize, the earth’s temperature is increasing due to the growing concentration of GHGs in the atmosphere.

  • Making things (cement, steel, plastic) — 31%
  • Plugging in (electricity) — 27%
  • Growing things (plants, animals) — 19%
  • Getting around (cars, trucks, planes, cargo ships) — 16%
  • Keeping warm and cool (heating, warming, refrigeration) — 7%
https://www.bp.com/content/dam/bp/business-sites/en/global/corporate/pdfs/energy-economics/statistical-review/bp-stats-review-2021-full-report.pdf

Are we on track as humanity to limit global warming?

No, We are not.

What to do about it?

So we are not on track and by a large margin due to a much slower than needed reduction in GHG. As discussed above, there are several lines of action, all important.

  • Personal consumption. Switching to electricity from fossil fuels for heating and cooking, replacing ICE-cars with electric vehicles, relying more on a seasonal plant-based diet, and generally consuming less (including living in smaller homes and driving smaller cars)
  • Invention and building. As mentioned above we need to invent a lot of technologies and build out already existing at an aggressive pace. We need Entrepreneurs working in this field for many decades to make it happen.
  • Engaging politicians. Even when new technology becomes competitive with the existing one its implementation is often delayed by multiple factors, like significant investments made in previous generations, lack of established credibility of the new product, and overall human inertia. To achieve rapid adoption new technologies need policy support that will help overcome those factors. The invention of new technologies can benefit from effective policies too. Politicians (at least in democracies but to some degree everywhere) listen to the population and react to people’s opinions.
  • Spreading the word. It is critical that every person on the planet understands the basics of Climate change.

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